Time Management Turnaround, Administrative Additions, Client Catchup and Writing Renaissance

I think, dear reader, I have figured out my time management once again. This week I decided that I would do my administrative sales emails on a Monday so that I could capture the weekend. I had done them previously on a Sunday. That means that on Thursdays I will send follow-up emails. The strategy seemed to work a little bit, though I did notice that all of the people that I contacted with the exception of three or four all had non-Dutch numbers, which meant that on Thursday I was mostly sending emails out. I did get one person who did not want lessons because she found us too expensive which is fair enough. I also managed to get in touch with one other Dutch speaker who wanted lessons and we were able to schedule a getting to know your appointment for him. This was not part of my duties, but I suspect it will be in the future, so it was good to get a jump on learning how to get in touch with the getting-to-know-you team.

On Wednesday, I went to Amstelveen and spent four hours with Brenda and Kerry in-person learning more about how the English Center runs. It is a bit of a change being on a management team. It was interesting because I got a chance to see what went on before the teacher ever gets a class. Marieke, who was the former scheduler was actually there, and later in the day, I joked that I was the new Marike. I can’t honestly remember all the steps of the things that I observed, so I was very pleased that I was able to get one of the sales clients a getting-to-know-you appointment. I also put a new client into the teacher group in order to start getting teachers available to teach them. We were not sure of her availability so it’s on hold until we find out more specific dates and times because we also need to coordinate with the teachers. All in all, it was quite an interesting experience and I hope I am able to handle it when both Brenda and Kerry are away in Australia in November. At this point, I’m kind of wishing that I can go away in November as well, but it is not to be.

Right now at the English Center I only have two clients. I have Slava who is a joy to teach because he is motivated, but it’ll be a challenge to get him there as he isn’t using the languagre at all. Then I have Isabelle who is probably about a high B1 edging towardsB2 and getting better. I may also have a third client starting at the end of this week, but as of this writing have not heard anything yet. This new client is intriguing because she is an ING bank executive and probably speaks fairly good English. She wants help with financial terms, and generally speaking a bit better in meetings and giving presentations. She also only wants five hours but I have a feeling I’ll be able to get her to do a few more lessons.

This week I was able to finish summarising my novel of 33 chapters so that I know know what is happening, what needs fixing, where I have plot holes, and what is working just fine. This was done in a couple of writing sessions with the Writers Group, but also surprisingly, with a bit of discipline on my own, which hasn’t happened in a while. I used to be a pantser, a fly-by-the-seat of my pants writer who would turn on the computer look at the blank page, and simply start writing for good or ill. I am definitely not a planner like many of my writers in the group who literally planned for years before they actually start writing. I am in the middle, a plantser, that is, I have to start writing and then I have to plan, at least that’s how it seems so far. It’s a good realization because it tells me what I need to do next, and where I need to go with the novel and possibly the series. it’s not a bad position to be in dear reader.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But, stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

TEC Time Trials, Tech Trauma, Working Writer’s Group

Sometimes, dear reader, no matter what I do, I am not able to manage my time wisely. I think part of that has to do with the increase in admin duties, which don’t get me wrong, I like. Eventually, I’ll be able to handle it but right now it just feels like I am not able to figure out where I can make the best use of time. I am having a particularly hard time blocking out the hours that I need to work between teaching and admin. At the moment, teaching takes up about five hours a week and admin accounts for the other eight. That is, of course, assuming that it remains constant, which is not always the case. I’m supposed to be spending about four hours a week at Amstelveen doing admin work and that day is currently Wednesday. I find this a little bit difficult because I don’t have any students there at the moment as Yuka ended last week. I do have a new student that started last night and we will be meeting about four hours a week. The issue with that is that it is a hybrid in-person/online lesson. The in-person ones will likely be on Monday and the online ones on Wednesday. He seems to be quite a low level, and as he is an intensive client I have my work cut out for me. TEC seems to b guaranteeing a level jump in twenty hours. He also has a three-book budget. Which is a lot of books to try and get through in twenty hours over five weeks. I’m not necessarily convinced he’s going to use the books, either, which is another problem. That’s not the only issue with timing that I have, however. While Isabel and I have established a good rhythm over the last few weeks, I am struggling to finish my lessons with her. What I’m noticing is that we start a lesson and we don’t get a chance to finish it until the next lesson. The good thing is that she seems to like the lesson. She also expressed interest in possibly taking a group course, and I expressed that I thought that would be a good idea, but that I would hate to lose her. She then indicated that she might combine the group course while still having lessons with me and that would be the best of all scenarios. The other issue with timing is one that is looming a bit on the horizon. In my last post, I mentioned that I’d been picked with another woman to join the admin team of the Girl Gone International Amsterdam book club. I ordinarily don’t have a problem doing the book club on Tuesdays, except that Tuesdays are currently Isabelle’s timeslot. This might pose a problem for me for the mid-October book club, as I might have to host the book club if the main admin isn’t able to. It’s a couple of weeks away, so hopefully, I’ll be able to sort it out. But my stress level on Sunday night was through the roof trying to figure out how to get everything and everyone accommodated.

I never used to believe when my friends would complain about their tech going crazy. I have one friend you used to post her tech troubles about once a week on social media and I used to roll my eyes at it. But not anymore, dear reader, not anymore. You’ll remember that my computer has had power port issues three times now. On Saturday, I was minding my own business, as often happens with me, I realized there was something I needed to do on my phone, so I went to get it from my bag, only to see the black screen of death. Well, really it was the black screen of death with a purple flicker. It would not have been so bad if I did not have friends in town, who needed to get in touch with me. I found my friends and then ran to Vodafone only to be told that because the phone was a Samsung and I got it as a gift from my sister, I had to go to the Samsung service center which is all the way in the North of Amsterdam. My friends were great and came with me. I got to the shop and they told me that I needed an appointment to get service. So while I was there I made an appointment for Monday. I went to the appointment only to be told that they couldn’t fix the phone even though it is under warranty and that warranty is international. I was dear reader, fit to be tied. I then took my complaints to Twitter. We will see what happens. So I went back to the Apple phone I had in 2021, but my tech issues were not over, oh no. My Apple phone did not allow the voice to text on the WordPress site. So I had to physically type this blog post which seemed to take forever, as I usually speak into the phone and then edit on the laptop. It means that I am going to have to type my blog posts from now on. On the bright side, maybe I’ll get to the point where I write the blog post throughout the week instead of the day before I publish.

It was great to hang out with my friends who came to Amsterdam from Scotland. They stayed in a hotel, but I got the chance to be with them and do their touristy stuff. Like going to a cat cafe near my house, which I think Odhran (my Greek student) would love if we ever meet in Amsterdam. We also went to the Jewish history museum and the Portuguese synagogue, both of which were a bit difficult. These outings impacted my time management for the writer’s group because this past week I could not write. Instead, I actually did English Center work for the whole evening. I am hoping that I’ll get a better grasp of my time management skills in the coming week. I also hope that I’ll be able to get back to my own writing this week.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Training Triumph, Sayonara Student, and and a Writing (Teaching) Wrinkle

Let’s face it, dear reader, teaching EFL is not the most exciting profession in the world. It’s not as if we save a life or get to send a rocket into space but it has its moments. While it was still a quiet week in terms of teaching ka I started my admin duties with the English manager and have established a bit of a ribbon with them as well. The truetest will be later today when I actually have to follow up the emails that I sent out last week with phone calls to try and convince people to actually book lessons with the English Centre. When I talk to Brenda and Carry of the English Centre on Wednesday last week I was very clear that if I had been a good salesperson my own business would be a lot bigger than it actually is. After all 6 points isn’t that money and as half of them are rather low paying it can be argued that the business is not very successful it up. Especially when you compare it to a business like the English Centre which seems to have clients looking at their website quite a lot. Discover that that takes quite a bit of money. I was given a clue as to how much that actually cost when I was sitting and listening to between the English Centre and hubspot who run their content management system. Still as most of the communications are by email and there are templates it’s not a lot of actual writing. There is the possibility that I will get more admin work overtime but you’re right now now karma the amount of work that I have is just fine.

I am teaching barebones classes for the English centre right now although that is shortly to change. I finished up with UCAS yesterday and we have agreed to at least keep in touch. English has improved quite a lot as she is able to hold a conversation which she wasn’t able to do at the beginning of the package. It helps that she is an active participant in her learning and she tries to go and apply what she’s learnt in conversation quite regularly I am going to miss our lessons but I’m quite pleased with her willingness to be proactive. I see Isabelle later this evening I have actually assigned her Tuesday evenings. It works out because I’m Mondays and Wednesdays I have a class from 7 to 9 with a new student starting next week full stop that’s a 20 hour package that might renew full stop it is unfortunately hybrid online in-person lesson which I don’t love full song he might be a bit of a challenge as well because he is low-level beginning student and that is never easy. While I find low level students willing to show the motivation in class the same cannot be said for outside of the class I am not sure he is going to put into practise the things that he’s learning like Yuka does. I am also waiting to hear along with two other teachers about yourself a student that we were supposed to coat eat on a semi-intensive basis over the last 3 weeks. Unfortunately that schedule was pushed back by a week because he can’t covered.

I in my private client world things are on a slow burn. On Thursday my total student was a new show. The Works genuine circumstances but he did say that he would produce another lesson. He is doing quite well and he is actually doing the homework that I assign. Guess from school in the US is another motivation to keep working. George and Gerry have cut down to an hour week andorran is just a half an hour currently. Bellini and I see each other later this morning and she has decided to buy another 5 hours which is great. Anyway is back in person as he has returned to the Netherlands and we are meeting this Sunday since I have guests in town from Wednesday through Saturday. My father biggest challenge is still summer. She does not need help with particularly and she gets upset when I don’t edit her papers enough but I told her clearly that what she needs is to be a bit more confident about her on raining I said I’m not going to correct when there is no mistake I told her also that she needs to bring me a writing symbol each class so that I have something that I can work off of because teaching her grandma doesn’t really do much for her. She doesn’t make grammatical mistakes. So it’s a better strategy for her to bring me a report and I give her suggestions for other vocabulary and sentence structures. I have a feeling that she won’t come back after this package is done. But we’ll see.

That’d all she wrote for this Inkreadable Installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Calender Concerns and Book Group Backup

It has been another interesting week here at Inkreadable. While my calendar is not terribly full of teaching, I have a good mix between private and the English Centre. The challenge in recent days is trying to figure out those people who are still outstanding in terms of packages and where to put them on my schedule. Last week I contacted Sander to see if he wanted to finish the last two lessons of his package. He got back to me saying that yes in fact he wanted to finish but that his son decided to go to the British School this fall and so would need some help with his English. It won’t take me long to get him up to scratch. He has a good base and is of an age where language tends to stick. It did with me. My concern is that Sander will give his last two lessons to Yves and then I won’t be able to take him on as a client because they might decide that two lessons are enough. I don’t think it will be, but that’s always the danger when you work for yourself. ShinWei and I have one more online lesson before he heads back to Amsterdam from Taiwan. George and Jerry have been a bit off again on again, with George being the most off. So much so that he is still a bit behind his sister in the book we have been using. On Sunday they let me know that their classes will go down to an hour on Sundays as their school is ramping up and they will have no time to have a class during the week. I have established a good rhythm with my client who needs testing help where we do a test in person together but I also give him a ton of exercises to do at home. Galini is still in Greece until the 13th of September so I have a bit of a break from her lessons. Greek continues to be a bit of a challenge for Odhran with him not remembering the pronouns for verbs and struggling with the endings. I sent his mum what I had for using pronouns and I hope that will help. Odhran’s mom is the easiest client because she understands the struggle that teachers have. The children that are somewhat on the spectrum can be hard to teach and I know that when Odhran starts singing he’s bored. So I have to pivot pretty quick. My German intensive student from July was supposed to start with me online once a week in September and I contacted her on the first. She got back to me on Sunday and we have decided to do a couple of lessons of an hour and a half each. I was supposed to meet with Samar on Sunday afternoon in person but she contacted me an hour before our lesson to let me know that her son was sick. It’s fortunate that I was not already on the way there as I would have been quite pissed off.

The English Center has been kind of quiet. At the moment I only have one client with them, who is on vacation until September 13th. In the middle of October, I start back up with Marco, my client who went away on medical leave and so it will be almost like starting again. I will check with him to see if anything has changed in the last year in terms of his needs. I remember him as being quite low-level, but what was worse is that he lacks self-confidence. There has been no word from the girls in Palestine about whether they want to start again yet. I have decided they can come after me if they want lessons. Tomorrow I go to the English Center to talk about doing some more consistent admin work for them and I’m still not sure what that will look like. I was very clear that I did not want to take any work away from anyone working on the admin team. As always when I know what’s going on, dear r reader, so will you.

The writer’s group continues to go quite well and we have many people who have been coming to the group regularly. Thursday there were five new people signed up for the meeting but only one showed up. It was a woman that I had met about 5 years ago at Weight Watchers here in the Netherlands. I was quite excited to see her only to find out that she is leaving the Netherlands permanently to go live in Scotland. Still, she will be there with us for the next writer’s group this week and I’m hoping that we will keep in touch when she finally moves to Scotland. In other (kind of) related news, I had been a member of the Girl Gone International Amsterdam book club, and this past weekend they asked me to be part of the team. Of course, I said yes because I quite like the women that I meet through the book club. I am also friends with two of the other admins and I like the fourth person on the team as well. We will just have to see what form my contribution to the book club takes because I really like hosting and I don’t even mind doing the writing Workshops on occasion. They cost me more money than they make me but it’s a way to connect with people.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Testing Turnaround, Admin Antics, And Tech Trials

This week at Inkreadablewas quite interesting mainly because of my new student Karim. Who, for all that his name sounds Arabic, is extremely Italian. He is very young and wants to go back to school hence the four-and-a-half hours of IELTS prep. He’s probably about a level B2 heading towards C1 at least in speaking. But writing and taking a test are a whole other kettle of fish. I have set him standing homework to make sentences everytime we meet and that’s where the mistakes are apparent. He is making mistakes about 30% of the time with verbs. He wants a testing score so that he can go to university and get his masters in film. He wants to end up in the US. The good news for him is that the TOEFL is a little bit easier than the IELTS. And the other good news is that the TOEFL will be accepted by universities in Europe should he choose to stay here. To that end we decided to change our course and and work towards the TOEFL rather than the IELTS because it’s a bit easier. Our last class of the package was yesterday and after a suitable interval I think we will continue in private. To my delight and somewhat to my chagrin at the same time, Yuka has said that she will continue in the new year. She has the right to take a 100 hour course that is paid for by her husband’s company. There has been no word from the girls in Palestine. I think they started school and I’m waiting to hear from them. Isabelle and I established a rhythm where she makes sentences for me and sends them before the class. We go over them in class. It seems to be a good system for her but also I have given her more critical reading work and she seems to enjoy that as well. I have picked up some hours with the English Center for a student who is doing about 32 hours over the next 3 weeks in hour and a half increments. I am working with two other teachers and while I like collaborative work, the challenge here is not to double up on lessons. That means that there will be lots of back and forth between the three of us over the next 3-weeks as to what we’re teaching. I got a phone call from Brenda as I was on my way to teach Yuka yesterday. It seems that the English Center is getting a lot more business they need a second person to do admin work. They have proposed 8 hours to start at €20 an hour. Of course, I said yes. I have agreed to meet in person in Amstelveen before my lesson with Yuka a week from tomorrow.

In my private client world, things are still a little bit slow. I expect to see ShinWei this week on Wednesday but do not have Galini on my schedule until the 13th of September as she is in Greece to visit her ailing grandfather. On Sunday, it wasn’t George and Jerry but rather just Jerry, as George was at a sports camp and couldn’t attend class. I’m going to have to work twice as hard this afternoon to catch George up to where Jerry is. Odhran continues to be a bit of a challenge as he is still only doing one class a week and there isn’t that much that I can cover in a half an hour. He struggles to remember the pronouns and verb endings. This is particularly difficult because Greek verbs have several different endings in declinations. Grammar is a real struggle both for him to remember and for me to teach.

My computer is once again on the fritz, dear reader, and it happens to be the same problem that I had several months ago. For those of you joining us late in the game, I had problems with the main charging port of my computer. The motherboard was switched out in 2021. In February of this year, I was in the States and had problems with the computer towards the end of my trip. There wasn’t enough time to fix it while still in the States but we came back to the Netherlands and my motherboard, palm rest, and audio jack were replaced. I also received a new case bottom at that time. Over the last 4 weeks, I have noticed that on occasion my computer will discharge. I had called Dell about the problem but as it seemed to be working fine when I was on the phone with them nothing was done and the case was closed. That was a couple of weeks ago. On Friday evening my computer discharged once again. When I called Dell this time we updated some drivers. When this didn’t fix the problem we scheduled an appointment for today between 10 and 2. In the meantime, my computer is working and all of the ports are currently charging. I am not sure what is going on with this computer but it’s gotten to the point where I might just go back to Apple when I buy another computer. I said that to Jasper this weekend and even he agreed that this is ridiculous. The only other option is to renew my extremely expensive Dell warranty in February 2024 when this one lapses.

Jasper had a 3-day weekend this weekend so we took a couple of half-day trips. We went to Floriade again so that we could get the most out of h season passes. Being there makes me want to buy more plants which I’m guessing is part of their marketing strategy. We also went to Woerden which is a defensive town about 45 minutes outside of Amsterdam by train. It looks a little bit like a star on the map and has a little bit of a feel of a fairytale town but Dutch style, so picture brown bricks instead of fairytale castles like Neuschwanstein or as America likes to remember it, Cinderella’s castle. The trips did provide grist for my writing mill, making Sunday afternoon very pleasurable when writing with friends on Sunday. I did make some notes about things that I might want to include in a second book, but also a bit of work summarising my current work. I was quite happy with how things progressed this weekend.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

IELTS Idiocy, Palestine Powerplay, and China Connections

It has been a very interesting week here at Inkreadable, dear reader. My private client world continues to be a bit quiet with people still on vacation for the rest of the month. Shinwei has decided to take a week’s vacation and so I will see him next week. That leaves Galini, George and Jerry, and Odhran. Those lessons are not terribly difficult and so I’m able to maintain setting up the week’s lessons the week before. It allows me to have some semblance of a weekend even if I do have to teach on Sundays. Yesterday almost did not happen as there was a power outage in Beijing. But all’s well that ends well, as the power came back on and we were even able to have the class a half hour early. We even got a chance to have the lesson early. I wonder if the teachers who still teach for VIPKid were affected by the power outages in Beijing. And whether VIPKid will compensate the teachers for the problem. I suspect they won’t.

Things were also pretty interesting at the English Center this week. I reconnected with Isabelle, and her goals are still the same. She wants to improve her fluency and general spoken English. The problem is that she doesn’t have much opportunity to practice, so the first thing I did was gave her some tips as to where she might be able to find people to talk to. The English Center also gave me a licensed account for Zoom and I was able to stop using my private account for those lessons. Yesterday I started with a new student who booked 4 and 1/2 hours of in-person lessons to practice for the IELTS. I’m not sure why he thinks that four-and-a-half hours is enough time. Especially if he wants to take the academic IELTS which is actually extremely difficult. I have taken it and I was only able to get a 9 and a half out of 10 across the board. And I’m a native speaker. I will do my best in the 4 and 1/2 hours but the English Center also wants me to try to convince him to take more lessons. I’m not sure why the English Center wasn’t able to sell him a bigger package. And it wasn’t really clear from yesterday’s lesson. What is clear from yesterday’s lesson is that this student maybe more of a problem than I suspect. On Sunday evening he sent me an email changing our time from 9 in the morning where we have a room rented to 11 in the morning. We did not have access to a room, so we met in a cafe instead at the location. In the first lesson, I did tell him that 4 1/2 hours was not enough. Not, at least, if you wanted to make some real headway with the exam. We’re going to do the package as is and then see where it goes. The Palestinian Girls were due to start in the middle of August but as of this writing, I have no idea what is happening with them. I did contact them and their father to find out. Their father says that they are in charge of the lessons and schedule. I hope that once they get back to me, I have the time to teach them because their schedule might not mesh with mine, particularly if they want a Thursday lesson. Thursdays as you know are sacred. I do not teach on Thursday evenings. But all of these schedule shenanigans have taught me that teaching time is only valuable to the teacher.

George and Jerry’s aunt in the US contacted me, saying that someone in China wanted to take lessons in English. I contacted the person interested in lessons fairly quickly. Only to be told that it has not been decided when the child will take lessons or even if they will take lessons. This kind of run-around is extremely frustrating. You either want to listen or you don’t but don’t ask as a maybe because it gets the teacher’s hopes up. I think it’s that way for any teacher. I told them no problem and I said that they should contact me once they’re ready. But I’m certainly not going to wait around and not fill my schedule up. It’s definitely a case of you snooze, you lose.

It was a quiet week in terms of the writing group. I continued to summarise my novel and I’m quite happy to see where it’s going. I’m also intrigued by the glimmers of a series that I’m starting to see through this exercise. While I am not quite in the planning stages of subsequent books in the series, I’m slowly discovering the merits of planning, at least on some level.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Duty Discharged and a Planning Powerhouse

I’m not sure what it is about heatwaves, dear reader, but the last few days in Amsterdam have been ridiculous. I am not one for 30-plus-degree celsius temperatures. It is particularly inconvenient when you have to do things that require being outside. My Once and Future student Adriana from Colombia came to the Netherlands for about a month and a half to visit her sister Claudia, who you may remember was my student from the English Center. You might also remember that I owed her about 5 hours of lessons from our package. Back in April, she contacted me to say that she has got another job and wanted to finish up our lessons so that she could start this second job. I thought it would be more interesting and much more fun to actually meet while she was in Amsterdam and do the 5 hours in person. They were already paid for, so it didn’t really make too much of a difference. Of course, when you do that the expenses are a little higher than they are when you are online. She contacted me earlier in the week and we scheduled our 5 hours for Friday from 11 to 4 p.m. I met her at Centraal Station and of course, she wanted to see the red light district because everybody does when they’re in Amsterdam. It was, in truth rather underwhelming. I don’t find it particularly amazing looking at curtains over windows in the morning and even at night when the ladies are out it doesn’t do anything for me. Perhaps if I was male or liked girls it would be different, After wandering around for about an hour we went to lunch and then wandered around a bit more. How was this a lesson you ask? Aside from having Adriana spend 5 hours talking in English to me I also had her read interesting English language tourist facts and we had a discussion about them. This was particularly effective in Dam Square as the monument in the square is being renovated. On the Wooden Walls concealing the scaffolding were interesting snippets about the neighborhood through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Both of us found this quite interesting and I discovered that Adriana’s reading out loud skills are quite good. It’s good to know for when we pick up our lessons again. I was very gratified to learn that she does want to continue but we will have to see what that looks like because she is planning on coming back to the Netherlands permanently with her daughter. Our last leg of the tour was going to Our Lord in the Attic which is a secret church in the roof of three 17th-century houses in Amsterdam. I am not a religious person, dear reader. But this museum is worth it because it takes about an hour and a half to get through. There are very interesting pieces of information that you learn about the house and the alteration, which is what they call the Protestant Reformation in the Netherlands. You get a really good glimpse of what life was like if you had a little bit of money. But you also get a glimpse of what it was like to be Catholic and have money. When I first went there in 2017 with my cousins I was expecting a small little room hidden away in an attic. What I did not expect was a 200-person Cathedral with a pipe organ. The sheer mastery of engineering needed to build such a church in someone’s attic is what amazes me about this museum. Our day out was not without its (minor) difficulties because I lost Adriana for a bit. She was able to find me which was good because that house is a bit of a maze. The five hours passed in a blur, but climbing through the house is not for the faint of heart in 32 C temperatures.

Saturday was a particularly productive day. I sat at home and I planned the week. It might not sound like a lot but it was. I struggled a bit with trying to figure out a returning student named Isabelle, who I have later this evening. The plan is to make sure that nothing has changed from her previous intake and then do a small lesson to fill the rest of the time. It’s a reading lesson and so I sent her the article beforehand. I hope she reads it. if she doesn’t, we’ll read it together in class but then we have to rush and I do not like rushing. Yuka is set to finish her lesson package on the 14th of September so we have a little bit under a month. I am a little bit sad to see her go because she’s very sweet and she seems to like the lessons. I am not sure if she will continue as her husband’s company is paying for the lessons. It’s a little challenging with her because although there is a lot of material in English she is quite a low level and so I’ve had to modify my lessons. For example, we’ve been working on the conditional tense and I’ve had to keep it to very simple sentences. She seems to have a good understanding and our lessons have taken a bit of a rhythm. I also contacted Samar and she has asked that we continue when she is back in the Netherlands in September. Galini and I have also established a rhythm doing a critical reading lesson that combines both discussion and pronunciation. Last week, I contacted the Palestinian girls to find out if they wanted to continue and when, but have not heard anything from their father at the moment. I think it will be better if I contact him directly. ShinWei is currently on vacation in Taiwan but wants to continue with our lessons because he is not able to go outside anyway. Apparently, the situation with Covid in Taiwan is quite severe. To be honest, I am pretty sure it’s quite severe here in the Netherlands with everybody engaging in lots of shinanigans but no one is actually reporting those numbers. I also planned my lessons for George and Jerry. They are the easiest because I just follow a book and supplement when I need to. Odhran for Greek was a bit of a challenge as he really needs help with Grammar so I’ve been looking for many resources online and while I have found some, this continues to be difficult for a half an hour a week. The plan this week is to reinforce the verb to be. With the whole week planned, I had nothing to do for the weekend. It was too hot to create and so I spent it reading and watching TV. But I’m quite happy with my ability to ignore the heat and plan the week. I feel that that is an accomplishment.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

TEC Tomfoolery and Book Market Bargains

While July was a great month for me, the weeks leading into September promise to be quieter but also not as lucrative. My intensives have wound up and I don’t really have anything on the books for the next couple of weeks, beyond my Japanese client. Even my Turkish client is going on vacation after today. It’s true she’ll come back on the 30th of August but then we will have finished the package, and, while I think she will come back to me privately, that’s by no means assured. I also haven’t heard anything from the English Center about my client Isabel, who is slated to come back and has specifically asked for me. Midweek last week I also found out that Marco Verbeek, a client that I had back in September 2021 for one lesson that lasted an hour and a half, has decided to come back. First and foremost, I was quite pleased to hear about him because he had gone away due to a serious illness. I was quite happy to find out that his treatments for whatever the unnamed illness is are working and he’s ready to continue with his English. Yesterday, I also contacted the girls in Palestine to see if they would continue with me even though I find them a bit of a challenge. The tomfoolery part of this post, with regard to TEC comes from the fact that I have been ready to teach for them at a moment’s notice, sometimes quite literally, and have been screwed over on two occasions. The first time was with a woman who had supposedly bought 20 hours of lessons. I was given the standard information packet from TEC. I set up the time to meet with her online so that we could schedule the rest of our lessons. She never showed up nor did she get in contact with me or The English Center. I was paid for that day but what I realise is that the English Center is no longer asking for payment in advance from their students and they should be. They should also, quite honestly, be paying their teachers in advance. But they don’t. They pay weekly on a Monday for two weeks previous. Up until now, the system has worked rather well. It’s nice knowing that you have a weekly paycheck coming in. Here’s the problem. It’s not ok when the English Center’s policy screws over the teacher on a regular basis. While they don’t tell us how to teach and what to teach, what they do is tell the client that their policy is 48 hours and if the student cancels within that 48 hours it’s a lost lesson. TEC gets paid. The teacher gets paid only if the student cancels within 24 hours. We are the assets that the company uses to survive. Shouldn’t we be paid if the student cancels within 48 hours as well? It’s not as though the English Center doesn’t have the money, after all. What they do is they keep that €30 that they were going to pay the teacher if they taught the lesson. I’ve said it before and in numerous posts, but I will say it again I think it’s a silly policy. It shows me just how valuable the teachers are to the English Center. This week that policy resulted in a rather significant amount of lost income for me. What happened with this: on Tuesday evening I was contacted by the scheduler at the English Center asking if I was available to teach a 20-hour intensive for a couple who wanted to improve their English. It was to start on the 8th of August and continue until Thursday of that week and then finish off on Monday and Tuesday of the following week. I agreed to this and started making my plans. On Wednesday morning I was asked if I could do Thursday and Friday of the week that we were in and then Monday and Tuesday and the following week. I was told that it will only be one student instead of two. I also agreed to this and started planning the Thursday and Friday lessons. These two lessons were planned on Wednesday. So I was ready to teach on Thursday and Friday of last week. Fast forward some hours to the evening of Wednesday and picture me getting ready to go into a concert at the world-renowned Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. I had been invited to a Vivaldi performance. I made the mistake of looking at my phone just before the performance. I received a direct email from the student that I was supposed to teach the next day. Or rather I got an email from his girlfriend as to whether we could do 4 hours and 4 hours for both she and her boyfriend on Thursday and Friday. of course this was not going to be possible as this was an in-person lesson that had rooms booked. before I had to respond to the student I got a call from Brenda, while waiting for the performance to begin. She told me that she had fired the clients and that I didn’t have to go teach in the morning she did say that she would pay me for that class. But what about the class that I had already prepared for? I know that that was going to be a no but that doesn’t stop me from feeling extremely taken advantage of, even so. What it also does is make me feel ok with continuing with my students privately when the opportunity arises.

Over in my private client world, I started back up with Galini, and this time we are focusing on a bit of job search as well as the pronunciation that we were doing when she was a TEC client. While she doesn’t have too many grammatical issues, there are a few trouble spots. So I think that this session of five lessons will be a mixture of job stuff as well as general English. As ever, I would like her to be an active participant in whatever we do. Adriana, my student from Colombia is actually in the Netherlands and so we are going to meet this Friday for 5 hours. I’m thinking it’ll be more a tour than a lesson. Samar is not currently on my schedule and we still have 2 hours left. I will waait until midweek to contact her. George and Jerry are back on my schedule and back in the swing of things. It was a tough lesson because I had to give George a full hour and that is always a challenge as I’m not sure that he understands what we’re doing. Later today, I get to see Odhran for Greek. We haven’t had a lesson since June, and I have to say I’m looking forward to how much Greek he has forgotten.

On Sunday we went to the Deventer Book Market and it it was a great experience. I met up with 5 of my writer friends at Central Station and we took the train together. The book market was about 600 stalls. The vendors ranged anywhere from private people selling their books to publishers and bookstores. The books were mostly in Dutch but there were some books in English as well. I picked up two books. One was a nearly mint condition Warlock by Wilbur Smith which is the third in a trilogy of books about ancient Egypt. It’s one of those sweeping sagas that just screams to be made into a TV movie or a Blockbuster film. The second book that picked up was the first in a fantasy series published in 1986. I later came to find out that it’s the first in a series that has 16 books. I do hope that I am able to find them all. I do find it difficult to find books at fairs or markets because I tend to like to read in series order and it was very difficult trying to find books that were firsts. There were quite a few people at this event. In fact, I might even term it a super spreader event, if I was so inclined. All in all, I’m very glad I went and will definitely go again. Next year, I think I’ll be there when the book market opens at 9:30 and well out of it by lunch.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come

Intensive Endings, Writing Reveals, and a Book Market Bonanza

This week at Inkreadable, dear reader, while not as difficult as the previous week, was a challenge. I had finished up with Fiol and we have agreed to keep in contact which is quite nice. She will be coming to Amsterdam in October to do a masterclass in styling and color, so I will probably head to her location to see her for a bit. She will be in a town called Soest and as I am quite excited to see different places in the Netherlands, I’m quite willing to take the train out. I was also heartened to hear that she is going to continue her English studies in Germany. Her concern is that she cannot get an immersive experience. There aren’t that many native speakers living in Germany apparently. Her intensive was difficult because it was long and her level is pretty low. The intensive that I started just after she finished is with a woman called Maxime and she is a whole different animal.

Maxime in contrast to Fiol is a quite high level of English. Her goal is to become more fluent and make sure that she does not sound terrible in English. What’s interesting about her is that it’s a story that I’ve heard a million times before. Most of my Dutch feel confident in English, which is good enough for vacation and social English situations. The majority feel, however, that their business English is not quite up to snuff and that’s where I come in. Or rather teachers like me. We are able to give that final polish in terms of idiomatic speech and fluency. In this case, it’s all of that but also a little bit of interview and job prep as she is looking for work. We have been working on mostly discussion and critical thinking using articles that she is interested in and that I had in my arsenal. The prep hasn’t been terrible for the lessons though I have been making questions from the articles that we’ve read to understand and assess her comprehension. I have a feeling that I’m going to be seeing more of her even after this intensive is over. I’m just not sure what that will look like. She’s a challenge because I need to really be on my toes with her questions. I have to be ready for anything from basic grammar to thought provoking challenging language questions. It’s a pity that our last class of the intensive is today. I have enjoyed myself over the last few days. In other TEC news, a couple of weeks ago I was told that a student that I had during the pandemic in 2021 to continue with me, but I have not yet heard anything else from them about that student. Her name is Isabel and of course, I did tell TEC that I would be happy to take her on.

In my private client world, ShinWei has decided to continue for another 10 hours and another student contacted me and would like to continue as well. She is a former client that I had a few years ago go with the English Center and I was quite surprised to hear from her. She wants pronunciation help and as she is Greek, it should be quite easy this time. She’s very similar to both Eleni and Galini so I will probably just use some similar lessons.

It’s been a good week in terms of writing as well, and while I’m not currently creating, I’m quite pleased with this second round of rereading and actually plotting the novel. I’m finding that it’s easier to isolate things that I want to do in the next book with these characters. I’m only about halfway through so it’ll be another few Thursdays and Saturday sessions before I’m done. But I think by the end of August I should be back to creative mode and then I might have a clearer picture of both where the novel is going and ideas for a second one.

In other( kind of related) news, this coming weekend several of the writers and I are headed to the Deventer book market. It is the largest book market in Europe and as you know, any chance that I can get to get out of Amsterdam even for the day and have a little bit of fun, is just icing on the cake.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

Intensive Induction and Transport Trauma

The last few weeks have felt, dear reader, like the halcyon days of VIPKid. When I started VIPKid in 2016, I did not know the following two years would be as good as they were. As one of the first 5000 teachers, I was able to get fully booked. During the school year that meant that I was working about 35 hours a week and in the summer 42 with an hour break. It was rewarding in its way, but I have never been #blessed to be working for VIPKid. I viewed it as the first step in a career change. My ultimate goal was to get offline and teach in a classroom mainly to adults, although I was not at that time opposed to teaching teenagers. With the fullness of time, I realized that I really do like teaching people who are already working. They are motivated to be in the classroom. A teenager is not. I still have a couple of teenage clients of course, but my focus is always to get more adult clients.

The last few weeks with The English Center have felt a little bit like the honeymoon that VIPKid was for me in the first year. While it’s not the consistent amount of income that I want at the moment, the last few weeks have had more teaching hours than I have had since June 2019, which was when I first started teaching for TEC. My intensive with Fiol ended yesterday and I think she was generally happy with the course. I am not sure what she retained from the course, but I think she is one of the people that I’m going to stay in contact with. Tomorrow starts another intensive, which is a hybrid. It is a 20-hour intensive of which 8 are taught by me both in person and online, while the rest are self-study. It seems to be a strange configuration but apparently, the student is paying for this themselves and they have a very limited budget. I am a little nervous about this client because I’m not entirely sure that my thought process on these lessons is correct. Still, I’m going to do my best for the client as I always do, and maybe they will be vocal about whether I am on the right track or not. She is interested in medical consultancy so I spent the weekend trying to figure out with that meant. I am a bit annoyed that for the online portion TEC would like for me to use my personal Zoom account rather than give me n upgrade, but I am going to see if the student would like to meet in person at a cafe instead.

This weekend, dear reader, I had every intention of going to write with my writing buddies at a cafe that we like to go to on the weekends. I left my house at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, in plenty of time for 2 p.m. when we were due to meet. I opted to take the tram which came rather quickly. We had gone one trM stop from my house and then we were told that WE would not go any further than that stop. Rather than panic, I got out and walked to the closest square where I thought I could take another tram to get into the center. I waited for half an hour at one stop and another half hour at another stop. Then got fed up and finally gave up. There was a demonstration going into the city center. Had I been aware of this, I would have just walked at 1 and been at the cafe in plenty of time to meet my friends. What ended up happening was I was so frustrated by the whole experience that I went home and got nothing done. The weekend wasn’t a complete loss as I was able to prep for all but two of my classes. But I do not like being out of the loop when it comes to transport. It makes my life quite difficult. Still, in comparison to the District of Columbia, Amsterdam is a paradise when it comes to transport so I can’t complain too much.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But, stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.